satisfied. Ultimately, the hours of the lightermen having been reduced and a Penny and Penny' increment having been granted, work was resumed; but the feeling against free labourers was greatly acerbated. The socalled 'penny and penny' increment (anglicè, sixpence per hour to be in future sevenpence, and the previous sevenpenny rate to become eightpence) was practically equivalent to the fifteen per cent. rise in the cost of living since the last adjustment of wages.

The dock strike of 1912 is now generally regarded by the strikers themselves as having been a foolish performance. Ostensibly it began over the employment of one non-union man; and considerable effort was made to secure complete recognition of the Transport Workers' Federation. So far as the majority of the men were concerned, this strike constituted a breach of agreement; and for a time it appeared that the entire system of collective bargaining had broken down. An effort was made to call out the workers at all the ports about our coast; this, however, met with something very much less than half-hearted response. Yet it must not be supposed that there was no shadow of excuse for the men's action. The previous attitude of certain Port of London Masters, together with the employment of free labour in specific instances, had set up an honest belief among the men that once more a determined effort was being made to smash the unions. Hence, breaches of agreement, weeks of semi-starvation, and crowds marching to the workhouses. And the net result? The strikers returned to work unconditionally, having lost the right of choosing where the 'taking on' should be done, while the Lightermen's charter was gone, and there was a marked increase of bitterness against the free labourers.

In taking away the Lightermen's charter the Port of London Authority struck the final blow at a system of apprenticeship which was perhaps the finest London ever knew. The apprentice was, as a rule, bound to his father or some immediate relative-it is wonderful to note how certain family names have survived in the industry. Further, the Watermen's and Lightermen's Company not only forbade the apprentice to enter a public-house or music-hall, but (and this even in comparatively recent times) if he did so they fetched him out! This system


has been finally shattered that a working man's monopoly might be destroyed.

Is it unreasonable to contend that strikes are a natural consequence of educating the masses and at the same time a means of furthering that end? The old argument that a hand into which a book has been placed is spoiled for the plough appears to be a curious half-truth. Are we not hearing of University Graduates in business, of highly educated women farmers, bee-keepers and so on? May we not look forward to the day when the time of men and women shall be reasonably divided between mental and manual labour? Is it not terrible that one of our great dailies should feel called upon to apologise for the subjugation of London by the Tango,' saying that it and such vagaries form a slight relief to the monotony of amusements which is far more deadly to the mind and spirit than the monotony of work'? *

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Can the wage-earners find no better means of attaining their ends than the strike?

Working men generally may be regarded as a class of trader coming into the market to sell their time, their strength and a certain amount of skill. They offer perishable commodities. By no possibility can the time, energy or manual dexterity unsold to-day realise a price to-morrow. They are not even as the apple-growers who, having found the makers of cyder obdurate, discover that their produce can be turned to profitable account as food for cows. What the labourer has to sell to-day must be sold to-day or lost for ever-to him and to the community. It is this unfortunate fact which renders sweating a possibility; could our working classes afford a few real pauses for breath in their adult lives we should see great changes. The working man comes into the market, then, to sell the most perishable of all commodities-labour. If the would-be purchaser fixes the price at a figure which experience has taught the would-be vendor to consider too low, then the labour, not of one man only, but of an entire section, is apt to be withheld-for, as a general rule, numbers rather than individuals are concerned in these bargains-and a strike

The Daily Mail,' Nov. 11, 1913.


is declared. While the strike is in progress it is the working classes who are much the greater sufferers ; they have deprived themselves of very many actual necessaries and have so depleted their funds that on resuming work they may have to put up with a great deal before they dare embark upon another strike. The employers have lost no more than the profit they might have made on the men's labour (save in certain peculiar cases, as, for example, in mines, where damage is caused by flooding during periods of inactivity), and the public has been inconvenienced. Fortunately the British striker seldom or never indulges in sabotage, our sensational Press notwithstanding. Here let but just one instance be noted with a view to substantiating inevitable statements concerning our daily Press. During the railway strike of some four years ago a paragraph went the round of the morning and evening papers accusing the strikers of having cut certain signal wires. To the average reader this would naturally appear a dastardly outrage; but every railway worker knows that should a signal wire break or be cut the arm would at once fly to danger, the shorter portion of the arm being weighted for that purpose. The statement concerning the cut wires seems to have been widely circulated, but this explanation appears to have been published nowhere. Clearly then the immediate consequence was apt to be more grave to the strikers than to anyone else concerned. Nor must it be forgotten that there is yet another and very terrible risk which all strikers run-that of permanent loss of employment through the bringing in of free or blackleg labour.

Has the striker any sort of justification for interference with the free labourer ?

It is only for so long as we regard manual labour as a walk in life apart from all others, that this interference seems unique and without warrant. Recollecting that the labourer too is human, that his actions are dictated by motives which operate in higher circles, it

In the Yorkshire coal strike of April last the men whose duty it was to keep the pits in condition remained at work with the full knowledge and consent of their mates.


may be found that he is blamed not so much for what he does as for the all too blatant manner of the doing. If similar motives are at work in other circles, how do they operate? to what extent can we find parallels? Recently a barrister speaking in public informed his audience that he did not go on strike, because he was a member of the finest Trade Union in the world. In other words, free labourers would not presume to interfere; should they make any such attempt, drastic action would no doubt be taken; yet the crude methods of dock labourers and others could be avoided among members of the Bar. Again, if shopkeepers complain to a manufacturer that one of their number is cutting the price of a certain article, it is usual for the manufacturer to refuse further supplies to the retailer complained of. Such methods are understood, society endorses them; but, insisting that the manual worker is of a race apart, that the worst is always good enough for him, no such help or moral support is given in his case. He must, therefore, take the law into his own hands or let himself be undersold. And the awful pathos of this underselling! Half a loaf may be better than no bread, but it does not follow that it will be sufficient. Drowning men clutch at straws, only to find the support inadequate. It is very terrible to work and to starve simultaneously.

The common assertion that union men endeavour to drive non-union workers out is very far from the truth. A cordial invitation is constantly being extended to the free labourers to join the societies or unions. It is only the man who cannot furnish simple proof of competency who is kept out. Further, after every big strike there is usually a considerable influx of new members. The engineers' eight-hour strike of some thirteen years back, which failed, was remarkable in this respect. If masters have a right to say to men, 'Work in the manner we appoint and for the pay we choose to give, or starve,' then there is not one single word which can with honesty be said in support of trade unions. If, on the other hand, masters have no such right, then the manual labourer is justified in refusing to work with any man whose action or want of action would have a tendency to enforce the aforesaid conditions upon him by appearing to confirm the master in such right. The term

'Free Labourer' is of course a misnomer, coined probably by the Capitalist Press. These men are free only to undersell their fellows for just so long as their fellows cannot prevent the underselling.

The law allows 'peaceful picketing'; and to the superficial observer this would seem a great concession. Men are allowed to surround their 'shop' and may endeavour to dissuade others from doing the work which they themselves have abandoned. But may a man dig up the seed potatoes which another has planted and devour them on the ground that the other is not eating them? Would not the planter be very apt to think he had a right to adopt some course more drastic than mere verbal remonstrance? Here the analogy may seem overstrained, yet the case for the striker has not been fully stated. His policy is anything but that of the dog in the manger. How many of the reading public understand that, when a strike is in progress and free labour appears on the scene, it is a quite usual custom for the Union to offer these men the same strike pay as the Union men are receiving, on the simple condition that they leave the job alone? Thus we have the planters saying in effect to the free men :-'If you will but leave our seed in the ground we will share with you from out what we have put by, though we are ourselves on short commons and though too you have refused in the past to put by for yourselves. Help us to this extent for the sake of our future, your future and all our children's future.' When such an appeal fails is it wonderful if an occasional blow be struck?

Public inconvenience, employers' losses and strikers' privations all combine to exhibit the strike as at once a clumsy and a deadly weapon. Yet strikes have in many cases served a useful purpose. In 1889 the public had little or no sympathy for dock labourers. The labourers struck; the facts concerning their conditions of employ filtered through as the strike progressed; and public sympathy was with the strikers. Again, when one hears of a large body of strikers putting in the forefront a demand for a code of working rules,* one cannot doubt that the treatment meted out to these men must

* Painters and Decorators, Aug. 1913.

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